Being a Christian is hard sometimes. It’s hard because we aren’t popular, our carnal man is always fighting with the Spirit within us, and life can be incredibly trying at times. It can all be exhausting. But, I want to encourage you (and me) today to keep going. Don’t give up! Here are some examples of enduring people in the Bible and what we can learn from them:
1. Moses: During the battle at Rephidim between the Israelites and Amalekites, Moses lifted up his hands. When his hands came down, the Amalekites prevailed, but when they stayed up, the Israelites prevailed. A stone was put under him so at least he could sit down, but he needed more help. Aaron and Hur held up his arms for the rest of the battle and the battle was won.
This is a perfect example for the church. We need to be lifting each other up in prayer. We especially need to be praying for our leaders – our pastor and his family should be on our daily prayer list. And if you don’t have a prayer partner for your life, find someone who is walking after God and someone you can pray with and know they will pray with and for you, too. “But you, dear friends, must build each other up in your most holy faith,…” (Jude 1:20).
2. Nehemiah: The wall had to be built, and Nehemiah stayed the course even in the midst of distraction, exhaustion, false accusation, and the threat of death. He didn’t waver. He didn’t hide out or give in to the distractions or defend himself. He kept at it and in 52 days the wall was built. This fervor led to the surrounding nations becoming afraid because they knew the work had been done with God’s help.
Whatever God has given us to do, we must do it with fervor. If it is of God, He will honor our work. We should do it with all our heart and not let distraction or annoyances get to us. We can’t let accusations derail us or threats of losing friends or family keep us from doing what God has called us to do. Nothing is worth more than doing His will. What is our calling? Denial of self, taking up our cross, and following Christ. Anything else is extra and should not take us from these three things. We must persevere, give our whole self, and we can’t let the exhaustion keep us from continuing the good that God is working in us.
3. Job: Job had everything taken away from him including his health. His own wife told him to curse God and die. His friends weren’t much help, either. Job was sick and tired of being sick and tired. He was mourning the loss of his family and likely felt alone in his misery. But, he endured. And God recompensed (though He didn’t owe him anything). “God blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part.” Job 42:12a
Many Christians are suffering due to sickness and loss. This doesn’t mean God is blind to it, or uncaring. Sickness and pain are part of this broken world we live in because of sin. Things happen that are out of our control and sometimes it feels like we are being beaten down. In some cases, it is God’s loving discipline or a consequence of our pride and sin. In other cases, it is a result of living in this broken world. Sometimes, we just have a really rough day, week, month, year, decade,… (I feel this deeply at times). But consider that if we endure, we will receive what was promised (Heb 10:36), will be perfect and complete, lacking nothing (James 1:4), and will gain our lives (Luke 21:19). Press on!
4. Jesus: The most perfect example of enduring is Jesus Himself. After all, He is the author and perfecter of our faith. Jesus gave up His place in heaven, came as one of us, suffered temptation and the consequence of our sins, was beaten and scourged beyond recognition, was humiliated and mocked time and time again, and was abandoned by everyone.
Jesus also suffered to the point of sweating blood. “Being in anguish he prayed more earnestly and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Hematohidrosis is a real thing, by the way, brought on by various possibilities including severe mental stress. In our struggle against sin, we have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood (Hebrews 12:4). Jesus also went through temptation from Satan himself and prevailed. We have not yet been tempted to the extent Jesus was tempted. Sure, things are hard and temptation is present at all times (because of our desires that seek to entice us literally to death), but 1 Corinthians 10:13 says, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful. He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, He will provide you with a way out so you can stand up under it.”
When temptation comes our way, the way out is Jesus. Prayer, reading the Word, reciting His truths, and choosing to resist and walk away from temptation will help us get through when times get hard. And we should all get ourselves accountability to stay on track. Believe me, it makes life so much easier.
Finally, Jesus died for sinners. He was innocent, but died anyway. He took on our sin as though it were His and sacrificed Himself for us even though we might reject Him.
“For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”Romans 5:7-8
How great a Savior!
Each of these who overcame in the Word can encourage us to continue on. For more, read about Paul, any of the disciples who were persecuted, or current events on persecution of our brothers and sisters in Christ in other nations. We don’t yet know what suffering is…but God still cares about our situation. Take your problems to the King of Kings on the floor of your bedroom, in the car on the way to work, to the altar at your church, wherever you can. He cares for you. And remember to find someone you can encourage and you know will encourage you in your walk with Christ. We all can use a friend every now and then.
Prayer: God, thank You for caring for me. Thank You for the great examples in the Word of those who endured. Help me not tire of doing good. Strengthen my heart and help me continue on when I feel like it would be easier to quit. I don’t want to go back to the life I knew before I knew You and I don’t want to die without You. Teach me to pray in hard times and in good times. And please send me someone or send me to someone who can partner with me in this life, to hold each other accountable and lift each other up in our walk with You. Please bless my pastor and his family with health and peace. Guard them and guide them. Oppose all who oppose them. In Jesus’s name, Amen.